Premier League

Why Joao Felix is just an expensive stop-gap for Chelsea

Cameron Smith
Joao Felix, Atletico Madrid, 2022/23

Joao Felix is a magical footballer. Poise, technique, elegance, fleet of foot, ball-striking ability – Felix has it all. He epitomises the phrase ‘the beautiful game.’

He is also joining Chelsea on a six-month loan deal without an option to buy. That is a problem, and it means Chelsea are in a lose-lose scenario in regards to their acquisition of the Portuguese superstar.

If Felix succeeds at Stamford Bridge, then his price tag will go through the roof, forcing the Blues to pay over the odds to sign him permanently, or pricing them out a move for the 23-year-old.

READ: Joao Felix: How Chelsea move will unfold

If he fails, then Chelsea will have gained nothing from an €11 million six-month loan deal and won’t be encouraged to sign him.

Of course, both points are obsolete if Graham Potter’s side qualify for next season’s Champions League, and if Felix fires them into the top four then it will have been a masterstroke signing.

However, that seems like a pipe dream right now. The gap between Chelsea and fourth place currently stands at a huge 10 points following the Blues’ drastic slide down the standings, and given the imperious trajectory of Newcastle and Manchester United, the points advantage Liverpool and Tottenham have on the West London club, and the impressive form of Brighton, Fulham and Brentford, breaching that deficit seems an impossible task for Potter’s men, especially with their injury issues.

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READ: Is Joao Felix prolific enough to solve Chelsea’s issues?

So, adding Felix into the mix seems fairly futile given the fact he’s unlikely to be able to single-handedly drag Chelsea back into the top four race and for an all-in price of €20m (including his wages), the Blues are simply doing Atleti and Felix a favour by giving him a platform to get regular football in order to attract potential suitors.

It may be that Felix integrates brilliantly into Chelsea’s system, improves the team by a drastic amount and convinces the Blues hierarchy to sign him permanently, but that would come at a huge cost, and with Christopher Nkunku arriving in the summer it makes little sense.

Christopher Nkunku is set to join Chelsea in the summer

Christopher Nkunku is set to join Chelsea in the summer

Furthermore, Chelsea are out of both domestic cup competitions and the top four looks out of reach, so spending €20m on Felix seems slightly bizarre with their season effectively over.

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For the six months he’ll be at the club, Felix will be a far better option than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Kai Havertz, who have both failed to live up to expectations since joining, but there’s no long-term thinking involved in the deal, unless Chelsea believe they can convince Atletico to sell for cheap in the summer.

With the West London outfit prioritising planning for the future with regards to their transfer business – as seen with the January arrivals of David Datro Fofana, Benoit Badiashile and Andrey Santos – Felix seems odd because although he’s young, he’s unlikely to be at the club next season or in seasons beyond.

How will Felix perform at Chelsea?

There’s no doubting his quality, however. He will fix their creativity issues which could help Potter start to play his style of football and if Chelsea get him into the right role then they’ll have a brilliant player on their hands.

Joao Felix

Joao Felix

But, he probably needs a proper number nine to play off, which Chelsea don’t have right now. Furthermore, Potter must answer the question of where Felix will play and it raises doubts over Havertz’s future at the club as he and Felix probably can’t co-exist – the same with Havertz and Nkunku or Felix and Nkunku.

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Felix will likely improve Chelsea and spark somewhat of a comeback in the second-half of the Premier League season, but with central midfield and right-back in need of addressing, signing a forward without a defined position on a six-month loan deal for €11m seems very short-sighted for a club trying to change its philosophy away from demanding instant success.

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